31 May 2007: Thieves get clean away

Japanese police are looking for a thief or thieves who got clean away with an unusual item from a hotel.

The stolen object is a bathtub made of 18-carat gold. The tub weighs 80 kilograms and is worth about half a million pounds.

Police have admitted they have no clues to help them catch the cunning thieves.

30 May 2007: Stand and Deliver

An elephant in eastern India has turned highway robber.

Local police have received complaints from motorists who say the elephant stands in the road and forces the approaching vehicle to stop. It then inserts its trunk inside the vehicle, gulps down any vegetables or bananas it can find, and allows the car to proceed. If a driver does not wind down the window or open the vehicle door, the elephant stays in front of the car until the driver allows him to carry out his inspection.

Elephants are a protected and endangered species in India. Forestry officials say the elephant is old and looking for easy food, and have advised motorists not to harass it.

SaintFM was unable to ascertain if the elephant only committed his crimes on trunk roads.

29 May 2007: Rags to Riches

A homeless pensioner, who has slept rough in London for over twenty years, is now able to celebrate.

Harry Hallowes, who is 71, has been living in a makeshift shack on a piece of land in Hampstead since the 1980s. He didn't own the land; he just stayed there. Recently a property developer tried to evict him, to build luxury flats on the site, but under English law anyone who can prove they have occupied a piece of land unchallenged for twenty years can claim ownership. Harry's claim has now been upheld by the courts.

The area around Hampstead is well known as an expensive place to live, even by London standards, with many stars and celebrities living there. Estimates for the value of Harry's 800 square-metre plot plot range from 1 to 2 million pounds.

"I'm not impressed with figures", said Harry when told the news, "I just wanted a place to live."

25 May 2007: One Final Perk

Elected representatives in Italy get lots of perks, including generous pay, free lunches, free city-centre parking and a daily expense allowance, all paid for by taxpayers. But the citizens of Venice decided enough was enough when the regional council decided to give its members a 5,000 pound contribution towards the cost of their own funeral.

"It's a stupid privilege which makes no sense." said an opponent of the measure. The perk is to be challenged in a future meeting.

Italian politicians are already engaged in a bout of soul-searching after opinion polls showed the low esteem in which they are held by the electorate. One poll showed that only one in 10 people had any faith in elected officials.

24 May 2007: Professional Thief

Police in New York had little difficulty tracing a burglar who had stolen thousands of dollars worth of jewellery and other items from a house in Brooklyn.

The thief left behind a set of keys and a computer disk containing, among other things, his Curriculum Vitae.

The police contacted the man using the telephone number on the resume. When questioned he merely asked the police if they had found his keys.

23 May 2007: A Job for The Boys

While the row about same-sex marriage rumbles on in England, the flamingos at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust near Bristol have the issue sorted.

Two male flamingos, Carlos and Fernando, have been together for six years, and are now being given the chance to adopt an abandoned chick.

According to a spokeswoman for the trust, gay flamingos are not uncommon. "If there aren't enough females or they don't hit it off with them, they will pair off with other males," she said, concluding "Last week, when a nest was abandoned, it seemed like a good idea to make them surrogate parents."

22 May 2007: Contra-Band

Chinese smugglers are suspected of dodging taxes to the tune of over 600,000 pounds. What did they smuggle? Drugs? Guns? No, pianos.

There are currently eight separate cases before the courts in Shanghai alone and Police discovered once cache of nearly 5,000 smuggled pianos.

18 May 2007: An over-protective mother

A German mother drove her son to a jeweller's, even though she knew he was going there to raid it. And while her 17-year-old son and his two accomplices attacked and robbed the jeweller, she waited outside in the car.

When arrested, the woman said she knew her son intended to rob the shop and accompanied him because she was worried he would come to harm.

In court, the judge was unimpressed by her motherly concern, and sentenced her to three years and ten months in prison for her part in the raid.

17 May 2007: Bible challenged

Hong Kong’s obscene publications regulator has received over 800 demands to reclassify the Bible as “indecent”.

The calls come after a row over a sex column in a university student journal. The column was declared indecent by the Obscene Articles Tribunal, sparking a storm of debate about social morality and freedom of speech. Defending the student column, a Hong Kong website pointed out that the Bible contains sexual and violent content, including rape and incest, and called upon viewers to register complaints about it. As at yesterday lunchtime 838 complaints had been received.

If the Bible is classified as "indecent" by authorities, only those over 18 could buy it, and it would need to be sealed in a wrapper with a statutory warning notice.

Anyone wishing to check the website’s claims can go to http://www.truthbible.net/, but should note that the site is in Chinese with no English-language version. Or they could just read their Bible.

16 May 2007: Have a nice day at work, dear

The happiest workers in the world are in Ireland, with Thai and Dutch workers coming close behind. So says a study entitled "What Workers Want, A Worldwide Study of Attitudes to Work and Work-Life Balance", compiled with data from 14,000 employees in 23 countries.

At the other end of the scale, British, Swedish and American workers are among the biggest complainers about their jobs, with Australians nearly as unhappy.

Morale is lowest amongst Japanese workers but they rarely complain about it.

The study found that the worlds biggest moaners - about their work, at least - are the French.

15 May 2007: Escaping to jail

A 24-year-old Sicilian man decided that being in jail would be better than being at home.

He was being held under house arrest in connection with the sale of counterfeit CDs, but deliberately broke the terms of his arrest by going outside. He then waited for the police to arrive and welcomed them, saying "I'm glad to see you".

He told police he would prefer to be in jail than at home, because of his mother and stepfather's constant arguing.

14 May 2007: Lost

Spanish police have stopped a man in an electric wheelchair who was riding along on a motorway.

The unnamed man needs a specially-designed wheelchair which keeps him in a stretched position. He drives with the use of his chin and mouth.

He was stopped by police while travelling "at considerable speed" on the highway at night. A policewoman in the local town said the man was not exceeding the speed limit, but was stopped because he "posed an obvious danger to traffic and to himself."

The man was taken to a police station where he was tested for alcohol. The test turned out negative. He told police he got on the road accidentally, having got lost while looking for a brothel.

11 May 2007: Ban Beaten

The US Postal Service has been forced to back down in a row over topless postcards.

Last year, Jean-Claude Baker, a New York restaurateur, decided to promote his business by sending out postcards featuring a picture of the woman who raised him.

The woman in question was the late pin-up queen, Josephine Baker, and the picture, dating from 1926, showed the legendary African-American entertainer posing topless in a feather costume.

The US postal service decided the picture was pornographic and refused to carry the cards.

However, after pressure from the New York Civil Liberties Union, the US postal service has now agreed to deliver them.

Josephine Baker was born in America in 1906, took French citizenship in 1937 and fought in the resistance during World War II. In the 1950s, to protest against racial segregation, she formally adopted 12 children of various races, who she described as her "Rainbow Tribe". She died in 1975 and is buried in Paris. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephine_Baker)

10 May 2007: Drink Driving Test

When a German man turned up for his driving test this week both his driving instructor and the examiner thought they smelled alcohol on his breath.

He assured them he had not been drinking, and the test proceeded, but the examiner decided his driving was well below the standard required, and thought he knew why.

So the examiner directed him to drive to towards the police station without him noticing. Once there he was made to get out and take an alcohol test, which revealed he was three times over the legal limit.

A police spokesman said the man will now have to wait "a long time" before he can take another driving test.

9 May 2007: A Poor Happy Ending

A man in the UK was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and told that he would probably die within a year.

Deciding to live his remaining life to the full he quit his job, sold or gave away nearly all his possessions, stopped making his mortgage repayments and spent all his savings dining out and going on holiday.

He was left with little more than the black suit he had planned to be buried in when doctors told him the good news - they'd discovered his "tumour" was no more than a non-life threatening inflammation.

"I'm really pleased that I've got a second chance in life... but I've got no money after all this because I spent it all," he told reporters.

He is now considering suing the hospital that diagnosed him.

8 May 2007: Drinking On The Job

A South Korean woman has sued her boss for taking her drinking after work.

The unidentified woman said she had been pressured into attending at least two after-work drinking sessions a week, sometimes lasting until 4 am, and therefore suffered mental stress.

In the past South Korean employees felt obliged to go out drinking with their boss after office hours, considering it was necessary to improve their promotion prospects. The custom is apparently now becoming less common.

The judge ruled that the boss violated the woman's rights by forcing her to stay at after-work drinking parties, and awarded her about 15,000 pounds compensation.

SaintFM wonders if she bought a round of drinks to celebrate her victory.

7 May 2007: A Hot Wash

Australia's worst drought in memory has had some weird side-effects. Snakes have been invading towns, looking for water; thirst-crazed wild camels have rampaged through outback camps; and in Brisbane a ban on resident's washing their own cars gave entrepreneur Warren Armstrong an idea.

He set up "Bubbles 'n Babes", a business where customers can have their cars washed by a topless woman for around 25 pounds, or a nude woman for around 50 pounds.

Police say no complaints had been received and, as the washing takes place out of public view, no criminal offence is being committed.

A government official said the operation uses recycled water and therefore does not break water restrictions, but confirmed that the government fleet would not be using it.

4 May 2007: Bring out your cockroaches

A museum in Texas is offering people money to bring in cockroaches. The museum needs them to fill an exhibit about the wonders of insects that eat decomposing things.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science will pay 25 cents per cockroach, and wants to collect about 1,000 of them.

American cockroaches grow to 2 inches long, can fly, and thrive in the city's sub-tropical climate, according to museum entomologist Laurie Pierrel, who said she will be outside the museum on the next three Saturdays with a bucket for the bugs and money for the sellers.

SaintFM has contacted the Museum of St. Helena, who say they aren't in need of cockroaches but would be every interested if anyone could bring in a live giant earwig.

3 May 2007: Breast is Best

About 10,000 mothers gathered across the Philippines to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding and to try to set a new Guinness World Record.

In the Philippines only 16 percent of mothers practise breastfeeding, and the United Nations Children's Fund has warned that this poses a serious health risks for infants. In addition to providing free nutrition, breastfeeding passes on a mother's immunity to diseases and reduces the risks of infection through unhygienic preparation of bottle feed.

In an open-air basketball court in Manila more than 1,000 mothers simultaneously breastfed their babies, as did thousands of women elsewhere across the archipelago, aiming to break the Guinness World Record for the most number of mothers simultaneously breastfeeding their children. If confirmed this will top the Philippines' previous score of 3,738 mothers in 2006.

Guinness World Records will rule on the record attempt in three weeks.

2 May 2007: Reading Sports

Reading FC's mascot, Kingsley, was sent off by the referee during their Premier League match against Newcastle United this week.

The referee claimed the mascot, a giant lion who wears the club's blue and white hooped shirt, was confusing him.

The mascot's dismissal from the side of the pitch before halftime did not appear to hurt the team's luck, as they still won 1-0.

It is unclear whether the mascot will have to miss the next match through suspension.

[The title of this item references an annual event that takes place in Reading, where Saints from all over the UK (and elsewhere) gather for a day of sporting competition, and other revelries.]

1 May 2007: Bring On The Substitute

When the groom arrived a wedding in eastern India, the villagers decided he had had too much to drink.

Reportedly he "misbehaved" with guests before the ceremony, and after a while the bride's family and local villagers chased him away.

But the bride was not disappointed. She married his younger brother instead.